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The Fish Tank: Theros: Beyond Death Edition (Jan. 26-Feb. 1, 2020)

Welcome back to The Fish Tank, the series where we peek at sweet viewer-submitted decks and maybe, with our powers combined, turn them into real, fun, playable lists! Theros: Beyond Death is officially here, so let's peek at some more sweet viewer-submitted decks using cards from Magic's newest set! Our main focus this week is Standard, which makes sense, as people are excited about the new format, but we have some Pioneer and Modern spice as well, along with a deck that's specifically for best-of-one Standard on Magic Arena! Oh yeah, and to have your own deck considered for next week's edition (and for our Fishbowl Thursday Instant Deck Tech), make sure to leave a link in the comments or email them to me at


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Nyxbloom Ancient is one of the most interesting build-arounds from Theros: Beyond Death, but so far, most of the decks I've seen playing the new mythic are just using it to make tons of mana (and then cast a huge Hydroid Krasis or Finale of Devastation). However, as mikexb shows with his Wakeroot Combo deck, there are some ways to turn Nyxbloom Ancient into an infinite combo engine! The deck's goal is simple: get New Horizons or Gift of Paradise on a land (or a Nissa, Who Shakes the World on the battlefield), making it tap for two mana, and then stick a Nyxbloom Ancient, which will make the enchanted land tap for six mana (2 x 3 = 6). The final puzzle piece is Wakeroot Elemental, which can untap a land (and make it into a 5/5 creature) for five mana. This allows us to make infinite mana, by tapping the enchanted land for six and untapping it for just five, leaving one mana floating each time we go through the loop. Eventually, we can use this mana to draw all of the creatures from our deck with Nylea, Keen-Eyed and end the game with a huge End-Raze Forerunners (after making all of our lands into 5/5s) or Finale of Devastation. While the combo seems like it should quickly come together when everything goes right thanks to Leyline of Abundance and a bunch of mana dorks, my main concern for the deck is the lack of card draw, with Nylea, Keen-Eyed being the only source of card advantage in the deck. This seems likely to lead to a lot of games where we dump our hand and have no way to refuel. Thankfully, there are some easy solutions in the format, with splashing into blue for Hydroid Krasis being the easiest of the bunch, which shouldn't be a big issue considering that Gilded Goose, New Horizons, and Gift of Paradise all allow us to make blue mana. Not only does Hydroid Krasis give us a payoff for after we have infinite mana, but when we don't have our combo pieces, we can just dump all of our mana into drawing some cards in the hopes of finding our missing combo piece!

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So far, I've considered Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded to be one of the most disappointing cards from Theros: Beyond Death. But what if the problem is that we just can't activate our namesake God often enough? That's the question Bennymon1 looks to answer with Temur Purphoros! The main idea of the deck is to get Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded into creature form with the help of some red-mana-symbol-heavy cards like Loch Dragon, Cavalier of Flame, and Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, at which point we get a discount on its ability thanks to Biomancer's Familiar, allowing us to cheat a creature into play for just a single red mana! This allows us to not only dump a bunch of big things from our hand but also sort of combo off with Elementals like Risen Reef drawing us a bunch of cards to find more huge threats to dump into play! One of the things that I really like about the deck is that unlike some Purphoros builds we've tried, it actually has a lot of card draw and card filtering, which should help to increase the consistency, although seeing a God that cares about devotion in a three-color shell is a bit jarring. Either way, if we can actually get a Biomancer's Familiar on the battlefield alongside a creature-mode Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded, the results should be spectacular!

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How many Golems can a Standard deck make? Thornton141 is taking the Golem challenge, and the answer is a lot. The goal of Azorius Golem Factory is pretty straightforward: play Master Splicer, protect it with cards like Gods Willing, and then blink and / or copy it as many times as possible with cards like Spark Double, Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, Justiciar's Portal, and Quasiduplicate to make an ever-growing army of Golem tokens. Is Master Splicer the most competitive thing you can blink in Standard? My guess is no (that title probably belongs to Agent of Treachery), but sometimes Magic isn't about doing the spikiest thing possible—it's about making as many Golems as you can and then using them to beat your opponent into oblivion!


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One of the downsides to Sneak Attacking a creature into play with Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded is that the creature sacrifices itself at the end of turn. One way to get around this issue is to try to sneak creatures into play that immediately win the game, although there is another way to tackle this problem: cheat creatures into play that can come back from the graveyard! Colossus Sneak Attack is built around this idea, looking to use Purphoros, Bronze Blooded to put Metalwork Colossus into play, smash in for a big attack, and then get Metalwork Colossus back from the graveyard, either by casting it with the help of a hasty Emry, Lurker of the Loch or by sacrificing some random cantrip artifacts like Guild Globe and Golden Egg. The deck's upside is that it is much more resilient than many other Purphoros decks. The "fair" game plan of Sia, Master Thopterist and Emry, Lurker of the Loch seems fairly reasonable in its own right, although the plan comes with a downside: Metalwork Colossus doesn't have evasion, so there's a decent chance that it will end up getting chump blocked after we sneak it into play. The end result is a take on Purphoros that is much less explosive than builds featuring Terror of Mount Velus or Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, but also with a much greater ability to play without Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded and a greater ability to go long thanks to the inherent card advantage of cards like Emry and Sai.

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While Heroic wasn't technically a supported mechanic in our return to Theros, Heroic decks still got some sweet new toys to increase their power. Shroud's Budget UW Heroic list for Pioneer is a good example. The deck's goal is to stick a threat or two with the heroic mechanic, which will grow every time it is targeted by one of our spells, and then load the threat up with enchantments to turn it into an unbeatable card-drawing machine. Thanks to Theros: Beyond Death, we now have Staggering Insight and Curious Obsession, so it shouldn't take long to make a creature that is drawing us a few extra cards each turn (while hopefully gaining us some life as well), while Aqueous Form and Gryff's Boon offer evasion so we can keep attacking through blockers. Perhaps the most important new addition to Heroic is Karametra's Blessing, which basically works like a super-Blossoming Defense, not only granting hexproof to dodge targeted removal but indestructibility as well to avoid wraths. Apart from the lack of Hallowed Fountain in the mana base, it doesn't seem like there are really too many budget choices in the deck; instead, UW Heroic is one of those decks that just happens to beat very inexpensive even in (near) optimal form. I wouldn't be surprised if UW Heroic were actually competitive in Pioneer, especially for a budget-friendly deck! If you have any idea on how to improve it, let me know, and maybe we'll give it a shot on Budget Magic or for a stream!

Fishbowl Thursday Deck Tech


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Anyway, that's all for today! If you have some ideas on how to improve these decks, make sure to leave them in the comments, and if you have a deck you'd like considered for the next edition of The Fish Tank (or the Fishbowl Thursday Instant Deck Tech), leave that as well! As always, you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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